There have been some questions about who will direct Star Wars Episode IX, with many hoping that JJ Abrams might return and bookend the trilogy. But, in the traditional of the OT, Abrams is one and done this time around, leaving the seat open for another filmmaker.
This was suspected, but it was confirmed in the new EW infodump on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“No, I’m not going to direct Episode IX, as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies,” he says.
The story arcs he and Kasdan mapped out will be picked up by Rian Johnson, so Abrams will find himself becoming sort of like ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi in Empire and Jedi — a presence, an influence, but not part of the action. He likes that. “It’s a thrill to see him take things and elevate them beyond what we had imagined at the time."
Of course anything could change - Abrams himself turned down The Force Awakens back in the day - but it seems likely that there's a new guy in the IX director's chair. And I mean a new guy - the turnaround on the film probably makes it impossible for Rian Johnson to take the job, even if he wanted to. Recent rumors have had Colin Trevorrow taking the job, and it's possible we will find out who is closing out the trilogy this weekend, as D23 happens in Anaheim. I suspect that won't be the case, however, and they'll save that info for post-release on The Force Awakens.